A KC-135 Stratotanker with the 22nd Air Refueling Wing refuels a B-2 Spirit on July 12, 2012.

A KC-135 Stratotanker with the 22nd Air Refueling Wing refuels a B-2 Spirit on July 12, 2012. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Maurice A. Hodges

U.S. Sends Two B-2 Stealth Bombers to Europe

The Russia-NATO standoff just got more interesting as the Pentagon dispatches two nuclear bombers. By Global Security Newswire

The Air Force on Sunday announced it was deploying two more nuclear-capable bombers to Europe on top of the three aircraft sent over last week.

The U.S. Global Strike Command press release announcing the deployment of two B-2 stealth bombers did not specify a threat that the aircraft were responding to. Still, their fielding comes amid stepped-up efforts by the U.S. military to reassure NATO member countries of the U.S. commitment to collective security against a backdrop of continuing tensions with Russia over its activities in Ukraine.

Last week, the Air Force deployed three nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to Europe for training operations.

The Sunday press release said the B-2 bombers were on a short-term mission to the U.S. European Command area of operations that would provide "opportunities for aircrews to sharpen skills in several key operational sets and become familiar with airbases and operations in the region." The release did not say when the bombers would return to the United States.

"This deployment of strategic bombers provides an invaluable opportunity to strengthen and improve interoperability with our allies and partners," U.S. Strategic Command head Adm. Cecil Haney said in released comments. "The training and integration of strategic forces demonstrates to our nation's leaders and our allies that we have the right mix of aircraft and expertise to respond to a variety of potential threats and situations."